ED attaches assets of ex-Odisha MLA, media company in ponzi case

Biswal was arrested by the CBI in this case in 2017. He was later granted bail.

PTIUpdated: Saturday, July 30, 2022, 02:10 PM IST
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ED | Photo: Representative Image

The Enforcement Directorate has attached assets worth more than Rs 3.92 crore of a former BJD MLA and a media company in a money laundering case against the Odisha-based Seashore Group of companies accused of perpetrating an alleged ponzi fraud, officials said on Saturday.

The central agency, in a statement, said a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was issued to attach Rs 25 lakh bank deposits of Pravat Biswal, a three-time former MLA from the Cuttack-Choudwar assembly seat in Odisha, held at the SBI Cuttack branch.

Biswal was arrested by the CBI in this case in 2017. He was later granted bail.

The agency also attached an immovable property belonging to Media Guru Consultants Pvt. Ltd in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The total value of the attached assets is Rs 3,92,20,000, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said.

The Seashore Group of companies "fraudulently and dishonestly collected huge amounts from the general public, of which Rs 25 lakh was diverted to the ex-MLA and his family members and Rs 4 crore was diverted to Media Guru Consultants Pvt Ltd to set up a news and current affairs TV channel named STV Samachar," it alleged.

The money laundering case stems from the FIRs and chargesheets filed against the Seashore Group and its promoters by the Odisha Police's economic offences wing (EOW) and the CBI.

The ED said this was a "ponzi scam case of fraudulent collection of deposits from the gullible public in guise of issuance of preferential shares by enrolling the depositors as members of cooperative societies".

"These companies were neither registered as non-banking finance company (NBFC) with the RBI nor listed at the National Stock Exchange and as such were not authorised to collect such public deposits," the agency said.

The accused companies suddenly closed down business and defaulted in return to depositors after maturity and failed to pay even interest on the deposits despite repeated request and approach of the depositors, it said.

Assets worth Rs 258 crore have been attached earlier by the ED in this case.

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